Oh look, I finally made that 2013 list I promised. Wow.
2013 was phenomenal. I’d even go as far as to call it the best year for music of the decade, maybe even of all time, at least for me personally. 2013 gave us so many incredible songs that probably wouldn’t have crossed over in any other year, whether that be for rock, edm, hip-hop, country or pop. I legitimately love almost half of the year-end list, and I couldn’t even find 20 songs I disliked enough to mention on this list. But with that said, even in a year as amazing as this one, there’s always going to be some garbage, and that’s what we’re going to be looking at today, starting with some dishonorable mentions.
DHM1. Blurred Lines- Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell and TI
YE Position: 2
Oh, we’re startin’ off big, aren’t we? Second biggest song of the year. A lot of people think this song is “rapey”, and while there are a couple lyrics that imply the girl in question wants to have sex, I don’t blame anyone for having that interpretation. But even if this song isn’t about rape, it’d still be about stealing someone else’s girl, and would still be sleazy as all hell. So I think it’s safe to say this song didn’t blow up because of the lyrics, but is any musical element of this song special or interesting? The groove is pretty weak and gutless for the most part, and Robin Thicke is a charlismaless husk of a performer. Pharrell and TI are fine, I guess, but this is far from either’s best work. God bless you Macklemore, for keeping this trash from getting #1 on the year-end.
DHM2. Holy Grail- Jay-Z ft. Justin Timberlake
YE Position: 22
It seems like most people who dislike this song dislike it for the lyrics. Because how can Jay-Z possibly complain about his life when he’s so famous? I’m not going to be like that, because 1) I’m not famous, so I can’t assume to know what that life is like, and 2) I know that having constant attention on you can be extremely stressful. So yeah, the lyrics are fine. I’d even go as far as to call them well-written and insightful. In fact, the lyrics are what elevate this song from being on the list proper, because this sounds wretched, with Justin’s sour vocals on the hook, Jay-Z’s awkward sporadic flow, the limp production, and the fucking Smells Like Teen Spirit interpolation that doesn’t fit at all. I’ll absolutely listen to your struggles with fame, Jay, just as long as you make them into a better song than this.
DHM3. We Can’t Stop- Miley Cyrus
YE Position: 17
This really deserves to be the infamous Miley Cyrus song from 2013, because ignoring the video, Wrecking Ball honestly isn’t that bad. We Can’t Stop, meanwhile…
It’s supposed to be a rebellious party anthem about not listening to anyone else and just having fun. And that’d be fine, except this sounds miserable, with that dark synth line, the sad piano and the heavy, crushing percussion. Maybe if that was the intention, to show a party that’s turned sour, I’d give it a pass, but as far as I can tell, nothing else indicates that. Nice job, Mike Will, you turned a potentially fun upbeat party song into this boring dirge. Y’know what, considering this and 23, you should just stay away from Miley entirely.
DHM4. The Fox- Ylvis
YE Position: 73
Hey memers check this song out! Isn’t it so lol xd randem!? It’s so awesome epic! Almost as lol funny as that new doge meme!
…Jesus fucking christ that hurt to type. I think I just killed my soul. Granted, the production’s pretty good and the singing isn’t bad, but this style of “random internet humor” really hasn’t aged well.
DHM5. 22- Taylor Swift
YE Position: 71
Y’know what else hasn’t aged well? Taylor Swift’s “hipster millennial anthem”. Yeah, isn’t life gonna be fun when you’ve just graduated a college that hasn’t really prepared you that well and you go find a full-time job that you hate and will likely be a career dead-end? Awesome!
… and the song’s a little bit clunky, the percussion’s a bit too loud, Taylor’s not trying, this is obviously part of her uncomfortable transition into pop music where she doesn’t really know how to emulate that sound yet. See, I didn’t forget to give actual criticism!
DHM6. Royals- Lorde
YE Position: 15
Oof, this one’s gonna be tough, since pretty much everyone else either likes or loves this song. I will say this: I like the idea behind Royals. I like the idea of a song calling out empty luxury bragging, especially these days. Except let’s keep in mind that this was 2013. The biggest song of the year was about buying goddamn used clothes, and looking through the year end, most of these songs have little or no bragging in them. And going back to Thrift Shop for a second, that song was parodying luxury rap, but in a fun way that was funny and enjoyable while still slipping in some solid points. Royals does tear down those cliches, but comes off more resentful and self-centered (look at that “so let me be your ruler” line for example). At least the song sounds okay, if a little underdeveloped. With the drums a little louder, this could’ve actually worked as an anthem. But what this ended up as just doesn’t work for me.
DHM7. Turn The Night Up- Enrique Iglesias
YE Position: N/A
Wasn’t an actual hit, but would’ve easily topped the list if it was, mostly for having the worst drop I’ve ever heard. It’s like… being sexually harassed while on a plane that’s plummeting towards the ground. Yeah that’s an analogy. Just… who thought this was okay? Who allowed this?
But enough about the kind of bad songs and the worst thing ever, let’s get to the list proper. Couldn’t even get ten dishonorable mentions, that’s how good 2013 was. So anyway-
You know, 2013 was such a strong year that I wouldn’t even put my #10 in the shit tier. In a worse year, this might not have even been a dishonorable mention. But of all the 1/5s I could’ve put here, this one felt the most right. You see, in 2013, a new bro country duo broke into the mainstream with their debut single, which lasted for a ridiculous amount of time on the charts thanks to a rap remix that got pop radio airplay. And while this remix was doing well, another one of their singles got a boost as well, enough for it to scrape onto the year-end list. And it is quite bad.
10. Get Your Shine On- Florida-Georgia Line
YE Position: 94
Anybody remember this? I know I didn’t. I’d looked at the 2013 year-end many times before, so I knew of this song’s existence, but I never bothered to listen to it. Then I did. And now it’s here. And it’s only saved from being higher because of how inoffensive and forgettable it is.
There’s something wrong with the main guitar, I just can’t quite describe what. I mean, just listen to it. You’ll see what I mean. Then there’s Florida’s singing (I’m calling him that because I don’t care to look up his actual name), and I don’t think he’s ever sounded worse. He sounds like Kermit’s redneck cousin, especially on the third chorus.
And I think that’s it. There’s not that much to talk about with this. In most years, it would’ve just been a dishonorable mention, like I said. And anyways, when it comes to bro country, 2013 had worse (which we’ll get to), but for the time being, #9.
“Aubrey Drake Graham (born October 24, 1986), is a Canadian rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, actor, and entrepreneur. Drake initially gained recognition as an actor on the teen drama television series Degrassi: The Next Generation in the early 2000s. Intent on pursuing a career as a rapper, he departed the series in 2007 following the release of his debut mixtape, Room for Improvement. He released two further independent projects, Comeback Season and So Far Gone, before signing to Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment in June 2009”
Hey, wait a minute! That doesn’t sound like starting from the bottom!
9. Started From The Bottom- Drake
YE Position: 32
Maybe I’m not being fair. You can have money and still struggle. What did Drake have to deal with? Getting screwed in contract deals? Abuse from producers?
“Livin at my momma’s house, we’d argue every month”
Arguing with your mom? Once a month? I’m pretty sure that’s a thing for everyone.
“Workin all night, traffic on the way home”
Traffic. Traffic is your idea of suffering.
“Uncle callin me like ‘where ya at?’
“I gave you the keys, told you bring it right back
And your uncle wants you to bring back his car, which he let you borrow. Drake, all of this stuff is too tame for the average sitcom. And I’ve heard the argument made that this isn’t meant to be about Drake, but instead supposed to be an anthem for anyone who’s made it out of tough times. But when he spends the verses referencing his personal problems, that defense doesn’t carry much weight.
But then again, that’s only half the story. He started from the bottom (allegedly), and now he’s here. So what is it like for him, being “here”?
“I can turn your boy into the man”
“Just as a reminder to myself
I wear every single chain, even when I’m in the house”
That’s… not something to brag about. It just makes you look insecure.
And then it goes into a rant about “fake friends” on the bridge out of nowhere, a subject Drake would later dedicate multiple songs to. And this production isn’t helping anything. The piano melody is extremely basic, as well as barely being audible over the loud, cacophonous beat. It makes a song that should come off as triumphant feel a lot more heavy and depressing than it really should.
But I am inclined to almost give this one a pass, if only because Drake went on to do everything I’ve mentioned here worse in later songs. However, it still serves as a warning of things to come, and as one of Drake’s worst hit songs.
At one point, this song was all the way up at #2. And yes, it is still terrible. But I took a step back, and thought “is this worth taking seriously?” and no. I don’t think it is. And I don’t think anybody else thought so either. Even 2 Chainz didn’t think so. Or at least I hope he didn’t.
8. I’m Different- 2 Chainz
YE Position: 99
I don’t have anything to say here. All the problems are blatant. 2 Chainz’s aggressive flow doesn’t work with DJ Mustard’s cheap production at all, making the song feel unbalanced and weak. As for the content, the main idea of the song is that 2 Chainz is different, but all the lyrics are cliches when they’re not completely insane.
“And I wish a nigga would, like a kitchen cabinet”
W h a t
“Then I put a fat rabbit on the craftmatic”
W h a t
Well, here’s the genius annotation for that line:
And I think that’s an appropriate note to end on.
BRING THE ACTION!
7. Scream And Shout- Will.i.am ft. Britney Spears
YE Position: 23
Ah yes, remember this? The final, pathetic dying gasp of both Will.i.am and Britney’s careers? I mean, I guess you could make the argument that #Thatpower was what killed Will.i.am’s career, but that song was barely a hit anyway (and I also kind of like it oops). But back to Scream And Shout.
So I’m assuming this was meant to be a song to let out aggression to in the clubs. But the production is too relaxed to support that. And neither performer, despite saying they want to “scream and shout, and let it all out”, bring any emotion or intensity to the song. And Britney decides to sacrifice any personality she has for this fake british accent that’s just really distracting. The only interesting moments are when Will.i.am throws in a random vocal effect, like he just downloaded his first recording software and wants to try out all the cool features. But the worst part is easily the bridge, where the slowed down delivery just sounds wrong. This is the type of song that would make people stop dancing in the club.
So, in summary, two declining artists whose last major success was two years prior team up to try to blend in with a trend that was already on its way out. It’s almost poetic, isn’t it?
Let me get this out of the way- Roar by Katy Perry did not make the list. And I honestly don’t see why it should. It’s about as inoffensive as a song can get. I don’t like it, but I’ve never cared about it one way or the other. It’s trying to be a basic empowerment song, and it’s upbeat and catchy enough where I could see it inspiring someone. This is the same reason I don’t have much hatred for stuff like Fight Song. They’re competent. They accomplish what they’re trying to do.
This, on the other hand-
6. Girl On Fire- Alicia Keys (Remix ft. Nicki Minaj)
YE Position: 49
To be honest, I don’t know which version was the hit, the original or the remix. But I’m choosing to go with the remix because it gives me a lot more to nitpick.
Let’s start with the sound. With the heavy drums crushing out anything else in the production and Alicia Keys’ overemphatic vocal performance (which is really disappointing, she has a great voice), this song gives off a very miserable atmosphere. And that could be fine, if this wasn’t supposed to be uplifting. But y’know what, even then it maybe could’ve worked if the song switched up and got brighter at any point. That would actually give a sense of catharsis. But that doesn’t happen. It stays the same dirge of a song the whole way through.
And then we have the songwriting. And as a writer, this kind of inconsistency really pisses me the fuck off.
“She’s just a girl but she’s on fire
Hotter than a fantasy, lonely like a highway
She’s living in a world and it’s on fire
Feeling the catastrophe, but she knows she can fly away”
So “fire” is referring to this girl’s ambition, but it also symbolizes the chaos and suffering going on around her. I really didn’t think I’d have to explain this to a team of four professional songwriters, but when your song is built around a metaphor, that metaphor has to stay consistent!
“She’s got her feet on the ground, and she’s burning it down”
Burning what down? The world? The world’s already on fire. There’s actually a very credible argument to be made that this song is actually about a pyromaniac. If that was intentional, then this might be genius. But for now, I’m just gonna assume that interpretation is just the product of lazy writing. And I didn’t even get to half of the horrible lines. Believe me, I could go all day with some of this shit.
Oh right, this is the remix! What’s Nicki’s verse like?
“An’ that’s a horse ranch”
Oh. And y’know what makes that even better? The lines leading up to it were about jesus. Ok, at least Nicki was able to make me laugh, even if it wasn’t intentional. With that said, fuck this song. Everyone involved wasted any talent they had, and I’m glad this has ended up forgotten. Because that’s exactly what it deserves!
I really don’t wanna do this
5. Harlem Shake- Baauer
YE Position: 4 (Seriously!?)
Seriously, I don’t think this is worth it. I don’t want to waste my time tearing into an old meme, especially one with this little substance and material to work with. I mean I gave a slight pass to The Fox, but at least that was a fully functioning song. The primary synth line sounds like a goddamn squeegee, and it sounds like it’s constantly tripping over both itself and the rest of the production. And as the song goes on, it just gets more messy and painful (yes, I’ve actually listened to the full song). And this song hit #1 because billboard started factoring youtube views into their algorithm when this was popular. So an actually catchy and fun meme song like Gangnam Style from one year prior couldn’t reach #1, but then this shit gets 5 weeks on top. Although that’s more the fault of billboard than anyone else. And you know what sucks even more? I decided to look into Baauer’s other stuff, and he’s actually a pretty good artist with interesting ideas. But he released garbage like this as a single, which went viral because of Filthy Frank of all people, and it was one of the five biggest songs of 2013 because of an algorithm change. Just fantastic.
You wanna know how to get a cheap hit while not putting in any effort? Controversy. Sure, people will forget about your garbage song in a couple months, but you’ve already got the attention and the money, so it doesn’t matter. Isn’t that right, Rocko?
4. UOENO- Rocko, Future & Rick Ross
YE Position: 87
Hey, remember this? Hopefully not. I’d actually be willing to bet that as I’m writing this, I am the only person listening to this song. You might not have even heard of this song before now, if you weren’t paying attention to music controversy in 2013. So for anyone who’s not aware, here’s the line:
“Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it
I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it”
Yeah, that’s rape. And unlike most times, the general public actually took notice and this previously irrelevant song was suddenly the target of tons of backlash and outrage. Credit where it’s due- both Rick Ross and Rocko were quick to apologize. But here’s the thing- Rick Ross’s verse, where he says this, was part of a remix. It almost seems like he was added solely for publicity… hmmm…
And I can see why no one was listening to this song before, because wow. Not only is this awful, but it’s the laziest kind of awful. For starters, half the lines rhyme the phrase “you don’t even know it” with itself. And even the lines that don’t are just uncreative bragging. None of the rappers are even trying, to the point where it’s difficult to tell them apart. And the beat is the musical equivalent of smoking some bad weed.
So that’s one of the two rap songs from 2013 everyone’s disgusted by out of the way, time for the other
3. Love Me- Lil Wayne ft. Drake & Future
YE Position: 39
Well, let’s get this over with. First of all, this is one of the creepiest sex songs I’ve ever heard. And the beat doesn’t even pull of that “creepy” vibe well. It sounds incredibly sloppy, and has several aimless melodies going on at once, even cutting out randomly. If you want to make a dark song, great, just make sure it sounds good also. And it might not be a good idea to use this kind of beat on a song with this subject matter, which…
The lyrics are the only reason this song is so high on the list. To put it simply, this song is gross and even a little misogynistic. Now, before you come at me calling me a “triggered sjw libtard”, I’d like to see you try to defend these:
“She say I never wanna make you mad, I just wanna make you proud
I say baby just make me cum, then don’t make a sound”
“Girl, I fuck who I want, and fuck who I don’t”
“These hoes got pussies like craters
Can’t treat these hoes like ladies, man”
“Lil tunechi got that fire
And these hoes love me like Satan, man”
Ok, that last one’s not sexist, it’s just really confusing. And the song can’t even stick to that, because in every other line he’s referencing his “haters”. While he’s having sex with all these hoes, he’s still thinking about his haters. Honestly, that’s just pathetic.
With most “worst of 2013” lists I’ve seen, this song has been #1. And I can totally see why. It’s just that this song doesn’t anger me the way these next two songs do. So what did I hate more? Well…
I struggled with putting this on the list, especially this high, since I do have some nostalgia for listening to the radio during the time this song was popular, and on a technical level, it’s not really that bad. But the more I thought about it, the more this infuriated me. A horrible, manipulative, tormenting song disguising itself as a nice little folk song with a little bit of wisdom thrown in- yeah, Passenger absolutely earned this position. Congratulations!
2. Let Her Go- Passenger
YE Position: 97
See, this doesn’t look that bad at first glance. Sure, it’s basic in its instrumentation, and Passenger’s willowy voice might be a bit grating, but it sounds passable. And songs like this one don’t usually have much going on musically, and that’s okay, because the focus is meant to be on the lyrics and songwriting.
And therein lies the problem. The songwriting on display here is absolutely vile. On multiple levels. First, let’s talk about Passenger’s claims that this is meant to be self-reflective, and about his career up until that point. Now, I honestly don’t buy that, but ok, looking at it through that lens, it fails to connect emotionally with too much vagueness and platitudes.
But here’s the real premise of the song: Passenger is giving advice, presumably to a friend. Hence the second-tense pronouns. He’s essentially telling this friend to break up with his girlfriend because he’s horrible for her. Because isn’t that what friendship’s all about?
The chorus is infuriating. It throws in so many “you don’t know what you had until it’s gone” phrases, only to slip in that “only know you love her when you let her go”. Yes, you’ll know if you truly love her when you “let her go”, because clearly that’s what she wants, because you’re such a terrible person that you’re obviously making her miserable. And how was he making her life worse, exactly? No seriously, I’d like an explanation. You’re not giving me one.
But the verses are where the ugliness truly shines through: as he tries to “empathize” with his friend, with great stuff such as “everything you touch surely dies”, and “you loved her too much, and you dived too deep”, trying to make his “friend” feel horrible about himself and his mistakes, wall so he’ll break up with his girlfriend, and do I even need to point out the obvious implication that Passenger is only doing all this to get with the girl? The “you see her when you fall asleep, never to touch her, never to keep” is basically a taunt! All alternating between crushing a supposed friend down and then manipulating him with platitudes and cliches, just for his own selfish gain. Yeah, that’s revolting! Fuck you, Passenger! It’s good that you never had any relevance beyond this trash. UOENO and Love Me may have been disgusting and reprehensible, but at least they didn’t try to sugar coat it behind 10 layers of bullshit! This was extremely close to topping my list, and it only just got edged out by my #1, which we’re going to go into right now.
So… bro country, huh?
I feel like I could stop there and just dive in to my #1 pick, but I’m not going to do that. Because quite frankly, I think this subgenre got too much hate. Yes, a lot of it was indeed terrible, but in 2013 at least, for the most part they’re passable. I’ll even defend some of the more infamous ones. Cruise Remix? It’s an okay pop song. It Goes Like This? Kind of charming in a weird way. That’s My Kind Of Night? Fucking glorious, even if it is for all the wrong reasons.
But then we come to a well-established and fairly respectable artist’s attempt to cash in on these rends, only to end up making the worst hit song of 2013.
1. Boys Round Here- Blake Shelton ft. The Pistol Annies
YE Position: 60
This is what country must sound like to people who hate all country music. I mean really, this song has pretty much every single negative stereotype about the genre. And what’s even more disappointing is that this is coming from Blake Shelton, an artist who usually presents himself with a great deal of dignity, even when he’s playing into the cornier, more light-hearted side of country music. And yet here he is, putting on the “dumb redneck” caricature, in the worst way possible.
Alright, enough of that rant, let’s take a look at what this pile of shit has to offer. The limp, stiff guitar can’t do anything to complement the percussion, which barely even exists. Say what you want about the rest of bro country, at least it has some life and energy to it most times. And in the rare moments the production gets some extra power with added electric guitar, it clashes with the main melody. When it’s not weak, it’s cluttered and unlistenable.
But then there’s Blake’s vocal performance, and OH MY GOD! He’s delivering these lines with a smug, sneering drawl, like he knows he can put no effort into this song and still have it be a hit, WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED.
As for the lyrics, fuck the lyrics. They’re somehow both pandering and offensive to their target audience at the same time, which I didn’t even know was possible. It starts with a fucking vocal clip going “red-red-red-red-red-red-red-redneck”, so you know you’re in for a great time.
“Well the boys round here don’t listen to the beatles”
Yeah, out here we don’t listen to none of that city music. Stupid british. ‘Murica!
“And what they call work, diggin in the dirt
Gotta get it in the ground fore the rain come down”
Is it just me, or is this line incredibly condescending?
“Well the boys round here, drinkin that ice cold beer
Talkin bout girls, talkin bout trucks,
runnin them red dirt roads out kickin up dust”
Ok, now you’re literally just giving a list of cliches.
“Backwoods legit, don’t take no shit
Chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit”
You fucking broke the melody of your chorus to say “chew tobacco chew tobacco chew tobacco spit”!? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU.
“Yeah the boys round here, they keepin it country
Ain’t a damn one know how to do the dougie”
That’s ok, I don’t think anybody else does either.
“You don’t do the dougie?
Naw, not in Kentucky”
You’re not even from Kentucky. I guess you could make the argument that “Kentucky” is the only redneck state that rhymes with “dougie”, but at the point where you’re finding a rhyme for an outdated dance that never even took off, you should just start over from scratch.
“Now the girls round here, they all deserve a whistle
Shakin that sugar, sweet as dixie crystal
They like that y’all and southern drawl
And just can’t help it cause they keep on fallin”
Yeah, I’m sure they do.
And then the song decides to become about hitting on women using your redneck status. Yes, really. They even get backing vocals from Blake Shelton’s wife, which is really funny considering she divorced him not long after this song came out.
Seriously, fuck this. It’s just a disgusting, cynical attempt to pander to lowest common denominator of country music listeners from an artist who really should be above this. Just a horrible stain on both country music and 2013 as a whole. Thanks for reading, best list coming sometime soon (hopefully), and until then, goodbye. Hydra out.